Job 21:17-18 – How often is the lamp of the wicked put out? How often does calamity come upon them? How often does God distribute pains in His anger? How often are they like straw before the wind, and like chaff that the storm carries away? (NRSV)
My origin happens to be traced from a home where garden work was a routine. A considerable percentage of the crops that were grown on dad's farm were of the grain family. Harvest time was, and still is, the most awaited and anticipated period for any farmer — a time to reap what was sown a season or so ago.
No farmers ever grow crops because of the stubble and chaff they obtain from them. In fact, most farmers regard these as useless compared to the grain they've laboured for. Chaff is so light that it is easily carried away by the wind as it comes from the thresher, and some farmers (perhaps unwisely) set it on fire.
Can this serve as a good illustration of what is to happen to those of us who will never forsake evil ways? Merciful as He is, God will never run the risk of permitting evil to contaminate the new world — where His obedient sons and daughters are to dwell. "But the chaff and the stubble were part of the plant that produced the grain, in fact, a necessary part," one might argue. So many people have contributed generously towards God's cause, by providing for the sustenance of the poor, defending just causes, donating to the work of God, and more, but still cherish evil ways. Are they also to be destroyed? The answer is simple: there is only one, single formula to salvation — accepting Jesus as our personal Saviour. Anything "good" done outside obedience to Christ already qualifies to be labelled "chaff". Let us remember what happened to the antediluvians who helped Noah build the ark yet did not accept the refuge that it provided.
Matthew 7:21-23 – Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?" Then I will tell them plainly, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" (NIV)
Let us all pray that, after labouring and sacrificing much for the work of God, we never become like the scaffolds that, after being used in erecting powerful and strong buildings, never become part of the permanent structure but instead are torn down and discarded. Let each one of us examine his or her own heart to ensure that we are not the stubble or chaff that will be carried away by the wind on that great judgement day.
Prayer: Lord, we request that you search our hearts so that we'll be able to stand firm until you appear in the mighty clouds of the heavens. In the precious name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.